Madi Sessions stars for the Benton Lady Tigers in basketball & soccer almost at the same time
Some people seem to have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time but Madi Sessions thrives on multitasking.
The Benton High School junior has a juggling act going on the basketball court and soccer field that is matched only by her prowess.
“It’s a very busy schedule,” Sessions said. “It wouldn’t be possible without very cooperative and understanding coaches for both sports. I have a game almost every day during the week. I haven’t had a conflict this year, but I did last season.”
As the starting shooting guard on the basketball team and a sweeper on the soccer team, Sessions is an important cog in each team’s success.
It is unusual, however, for an athlete to compete – especially at a high level – in sports like basketball and soccer that have concurrent seasons. Most two-sport athletes participate in sports that have complementary competition seasons such as cross country in the Fall and track or softball in the Spring.
Although basketball and soccer may seem like an unusual combination of sports, Sessions says they complement and re-enforce each other in some ways, especially in terms of conditioning. Both sports, because of the constant running and movement, demand a high level of fitness.
“If I’m not running for basketball one day, then I’m running for soccer,” Sessions said.
Defensively, playing basketball helps Sessions with her soccer game as well.
“Playing man-to-man on the court helps out,” Sessions said. “It makes it easy to not let an opponent get the ball on the soccer field.”
Sessions grew up in an athletic family. Her parents, Jeff and Amy Sessions, are LSU alumni.
“My dad wanted us to be athletic,” Sessions said. “It does keep me in shape. I’m very active.”
Sessions started playing soccer and basketball when she was about four- or five-years-old, and has regularly played for AAU basketball teams. She also played for Pee Wee soccer teams as a youngster, transitioning to play with club teams as she has gotten older.
Not surprisingly, Sessions’ experience garnered attention from both girls basketball coach Mary Ward and girls soccer coach Kyle Cox.
“She’s a great teammate and athlete,” Ward said. “She’s a good leader on and off the court.”
As a freshman, Sessions was a member of the basketball team but chose not to play for the soccer team because of the overlapping seasons. She was eventually convinced to give it a shot by her coach.
“Coach Kyle kept encouraging me, so my sophomore year I decided to try out for the soccer team,” Sessions said. “Once I tried out, I couldn’t just choose one or the other.”
Her inability to choose just one has helped both programs.
“Last year was the first time the soccer team has been past the first round (of the state playoffs),” Sessions said. “That feeling was amazing – going on to the next round.”
Cox said winning a first-round playoff game last year was a big step forward in the program’s five-year history.
“She was huge in that game, as well as our other games,” Cox said. “Her athleticism and knowledge of the game make her such a valuable member of our team. We use her to try to shut down the other team’s leading scorer. Our team understands she may have to miss a game because of basketball, and we may not be as good of a team that game, but we know she will be back a pick up right where she left off.”
An understudy early in her high school basketball career, the 5 ft. 7 in. Sessions has made the most of her opportunities as a first-year starter and recently scored a season-high 26 points against Minden.
Sessions is the team’s leading scorer this season, helping them to being tied for second in district at present after losing four starters and several key contributors from last year’s team that made it to the State semifinals.
“I love my teammates,” Sessions said. “If I didn’t have them, I don’t know what I would do.”
Like many athletes, Sessions has a pregame routine. On game days, she likes to go home for a short nap and then listen to music on the way to the game to get pumped up.
Realistically, Sessions knows her days as both a basketball and soccer player will likely end once she starts college.
“Both of my coaches are very cooperative and I am very thankful for both of them,” Sessions said.
Undecided on a college choice at this time, Sessions nevertheless has one goal in mind for college: she wants to play basketball or soccer.
And, if her college career is anything like her high school career, she will be a good teammate and an asset to whatever sport she picks.